Sweepea Dean Dressage Leader at Bromont CCI**
Bromont, QC, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com
Only eleven horses started in the CCI** and seven in the CIC**; nineteen started in the CCI* and five in the CIC*. While last year's event is remembered by its extremely wet weather that created a lake in the show jumping arena, today started cool and sunny and later turned hot and muggy.
John Williams and his charismatic, elegant gelding Sweepea Dean stood out from the crowd with an animated test in the CCI** to take the lead on 47.19 penalties. Sweepea Dean, with Williams in the irons, was the 2005 USEF National One-star champion In 2006 he won three preliminary and two intermediate events. Williams, of Southern Pines, NC is no stranger to international competition, having represented the United States in Olympic and World Games, and should be tough to beat. But surely the rest of the field will give him a run for his money.
In the CIC** Peter Barry (CAN) looked as if his big bay horse Jefferson D'Aurios might be a little spooky, giving him plenty of time to look around the judge's box and check out the photographer before he went in the arena, but the horse looked relaxed and attentive as he performed his test and took the lead on 48.13. Stephanie St. Pierre (CAN) and her attractive black gelding Santo Domingo had a steady test to take second (50.31).
Brandon McMechan (CAN) and Ryder's Juliet had a beautiful test in the CIC* to take the lead (43.21), during the hottest part of the day. Susan Berrill (USA) and Welton Hvala (51.79) are second, followed by Young Rider Ariel Grald on Practically Perfect (54.64).
Sponsors of the event include Volvo Brossard, DJL Construction, Ogilvy Horse Subway, Sandridge Saddlery, and Pitney Bowes. The event takes place largely because of the efforts of its organizing committee, composed of Tom Todaro, Charles Baudinet, Alan Law and Sue Ockendon.
The event at Bromont hosts the Todd Sandler Challenge in memory of Todd Sandler, 18 of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec who died tragically in a car accident in 1999 while returning home from the Rolex Kentucky three-day event. Todd was a member of the 1999 Canadian Eventing Team Talent Squad and one of Canada's bright prospects for eventing's future.
2007 marks the 31st anniversary of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal; it is interesting to note that Bromont takes place at one of the few Olympic equestrian venues still active in the world today. The event follows on the heels of the Jersey Fresh CCI*** in New Jersey, which next year will take place in May due to the extremely hot weather that it has experienced in late May. Entries at Bromont have suffered due to this scheduling and Ockendon said that a new fixture in Maryland on the weekend before Bromont next year may keep their entries down yet again. She hopes that improvements to the facilities, including a beefed up one-star course, will draw more competitors in the future.
Ockendon pointed out that all of the organizing committee's funds go into improving the event, including many new fences on cross-country and a great deal of work on the footing, so there is nothing left over to offer as prize money. However a three-star is being planned for next fall and that is sure to attract some riders' attention.
Technical Delegate Peter Fell of Ireland, who is here for the second year in a row, said that course designer Derek di Grazia of California has done a masterful job creating new fences and working with the hilly terrain at Bromont. The course will be put to the test in tomorrow's cross-country phase of the competition.
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